Scandal Recap: Shut It Down


The Fluffer
Season 3 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating 3 stars


The Fluffer
Season 3 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Ron Tom/ABC

We’re only two episodes away from the finale, so this was one of those fast-paced weeks that will undoubtedly set up the explosive season-ender. Literally.

Liv has had it with Fitz treating her like an old mattress, so Abby is acting as her proxy at the White House this week. It’s not really going so well — Andrew is still at the center of a messy love triangle (quadrangle?), so he, Fitz, and Mellie sit around the table in silence and stare at their shoes, giving off major parents-about-to-get-divorced vibes. Both Reston and Langston are up in the polls thanks to their ability to be favorable to women, or at least more so than the philandering, dick-swinging incumbent. Fitz spilled a little of his baby food when he pounded on the table and shouted, “Where’s Olivia?” but someone came to burp him and put him down for his nap shortly after he stormed out.

Olivia has still teamed up with her father to try to burn B613 down to its foundation, but first she makes him promise not to harm Fitz. Papa Pope promises not to touch a hair on his head, which is entirely too literal for a stone-cold mercenary. “His hair will remain intact … as I dangle it from my bloody fingers after having removed it from the rest of his head.” Not touching a hair on his head still leaves his entire body as a site for open hostility and torture. Papa Pope tells Liv that B613 siphons money from all over the federal budget; there’s an algorithm you can use to find the account, but it’s controlled by Command. When Olivia tells the gladiators what she’s looking for, Huck is like, “Wait, HOLD UP, how did you get all of this information? Your dad? You still talk to that guy after he tortured me? You’re a chump and he’s playing you.” Huck tried to put his foot down and refuse to work on this assignment, but Olivia basically put her bigger, Monty Python-ish foot down on his and said, “Guess what? Y’are working on this case. Now who’s the chump?” I get nervous when she pulls rank on him. It’s like watching a toddler poke a bear with a stick.

Andrew is following Mellie around the White House like a lovesick teenager in a high-school hallway, which is not how this affair is supposed to go, dude. You can’t be another weight around Mellie’s neck if this is going to work! Fitz wants him off the ticket, but Liv is like, “Noooooope, you need Andrew and Mellie to look even mildly appealing to voters.” Fitz spits up on his bib and screams, “You don’t tell me what to do!” before asking Olivia to help him figure out how to get Andrew to stop screwing his wife. In the end, Liv gives Andrew an ultimatum to choose Fitz or Mellie, and he chooses Fitz like a coward.

But suddenly there are bigger fish to fry, when former White House communications aide Jeannine Locke is back in the news with her new memoir, Taken for Granted: My Time As the Presidential Mistress. Ace title, Jeannine! She had a clause in her contract forbidding her to talk about the affair, but Sally Langston bought it out, so here we are. Langston is smart enough to know that the women of America need to be reminded that Fitz is a cheater if she’s going to steal some of those votes, so she has no problem digging up this old bone. When some dipshit reporter asks if Fitz is a breadstick or a baguette, Jeannine confidently tells the world Fitz is a baguette, and the carb-free diet is revived with gusto. At least this whole fiasco got Liv back to the White House. Cyrus is freaking out, naturally, and decides to get back at Langston by releasing the details of her daughter’s abortion. I’m glad Cyrus had that week to grieve, and is now back to his roots as a mouth-breathing asshole. I missed you, Cyrus! I’m sorry your husband had to get murdered for you to be funny again. 

Jake puts Charlie and Quinn on Mama Pope duty, and then rambles over to Olivia’s apartment in a drunken stupor to stand outside her door and repeat a lot of the same phrases over and over again. Liv won’t let him in, but she kindly tells him that they can’t bone anymore while he’s busy murdering her friends. What was that “says the spider to the fly” stuff? Jake sadly said, “I asked you to save me, and you said no.” This scene was so maudlin and dramatic, I thought for sure it would end with Jake committing suicide, so it was nice to see him slink off into the elevator and just go back to his shitty job.

Olivia convinces Leo Bergen and Cyrus to gang up on Reston; they casually give Olivia’s file on Reston to his wife in prison, the same file that proves he knowingly murdered her lover and got away with it by saying she was being raped, and catch him threatening her on tape. Abby loads the tape to YouTube, and boom, Reston is down 15 points and out of the race. Reston has a habit of popping up like a bad penny, so I’m sure we’ll see him in five years, running against Fitz for YMCA soccer coach or racing him in the parking lot of a grocery store to see who can get to his  car first. Reston’s sense of vengeance is pure and will never die.

Mama Pope is gearing up for something big. New lackey Claire meets with Harrison in a bar to tell him she’s not going to rat out Mama Pope because she’s “leaning in,” but she gets cold feet when Mama Pope tells her she’ll have to disappear forever after completing this job. Claire decides she wants out, but Mama Pope eventually slits Claire’s throat, of course, because to her that’s the same as a warm hug and a fond farewell in her book. She saunters over to the restaurant where Liv and Rowan are having dinner, and after they threaten each other with knives, she saunters back out. Mama Pope is Teflon — you simply cannot mess with her, so don’t even try.

Huck finds the algorithm, but it’s empty, so now they need to get the code from Jake because the B613 network can only be accessed from within. Huck needs Jake’s phone to be used as a transmitter so he can piggyback onto B613’s network, and decides Liv should have sex with Jake so she can get close enough to rig the whole thing up. Olivia huffs and puffs but then blows Jake down, even though she seems to feel some remorse. I, however, feel no remorse that there seems to be a built-in “make sure Jake is topless in every episode” clause added to Scott Foley’s contract this season. Take it off, Jake! And keep it off!

Fitz is doing well in the polls now that Reston is out of the way, but Mellie slaps him anyway for taking Andrew away from her. Why did she think he would still be available anyway? She was actively pushing him away. It was kind of presumptuous of her to play with his emotions like that, right?

Charlie has been questioning Quinn’s loyalty a lot lately. When they see that Mama Pope has unpacked “the Mona Lisa of boom,” a huge bomb, in her hotel room, they ask Jake how to proceed at the exact moment Huck gets into B613’s system. Quinn wants to go in after Mama Pope, which makes Charlie think she really wants to get back in Olivia’s good graces after all. Huck tells Olivia that he can shut down B613 from his desk, and she says “Do it,” causing a systemwide blackout at the precise moment Mama Pope starts to move to either the White House or campaign trail, and Quinn runs in the hotel room anyway, proving to Charlie who’s side she’s on after all.

Olivia and the gladiators start to toast the changing tide, only to have Jake bust in, grab Olivia by the neck, slam her against a wall, and tell her she just killed the president.

So where is this bomb going to show up? There are only two episodes left of the season, so who is going to get blown up? I feel like Andrew is going to die; if he doesn’t get blown to bits, Mellie is going to rip his testicles off with her teeth. Could Sally get it? Are they going to blow Fitz up once and for all?

Leaderboard of Arbitrary Points, Week 16

+ 300 points to everyone in the White House who called Abby “Gabby”

– 4,688 points to Jake “I’m standing outside your door” Ballard. Slow your roll, son! Just because you can bust in anywhere doesn’t mean you should. Plus, your shirt was on the entire time.

+ 2,000 points to the “What else do you need?” argument Liv and Fitz had, where she called herself a fluffer and asked him repeatedly exactly what she was meant to do for him. I will always respond positively to Liv taking some control of her life back!

– 5,700 points to Papa Pope for that “euthanizing a dog” speech. I will be deducting points for all of his speeches from now on simply because we have too many of them, and the man should be allowed to talk in short sentences every once in a while.

+ 100 points to Abby for always having a snarky comment on the ready. When Reston told reporters his wife made a mistake, she said, “Yeah, marrying you.”

– 590 points to Harrison, who, when he’s not sleeping with women, is getting drunk and talking about how much they suck. You know what sucks? The way they’ve let his character tank.

+10,000 points for the return of Bitchy Cyrus. From his “degenerate, chronic public-masturbating clients” comment to his takedown of Sally Langston as a hypocrite who “spent her entire political career telling women they can’t get abortions while letting her daughter d and c till the cows come home” to his telling Liv she “can’t just lie down on the job because her boyfriend was mean to her,” Cyrus was in rare form.

– 18,000 points for the sad “laying out his ties” scene with Mellie. Fitz slapped those ties to the ground like they were poison, and Mellie had to literally pick up the pieces. It’s sad to see her reduced to this person who can neither get nor give love, and I can’t understand how she’s become so stuck. But …

+5,000 points to Mellie’s curler wig, which was marvelous. Maybe there’s hope left after all.

See you next week!

Scandal Recap: Shut It Down